If you have ever been passionate about a certain hobby or side hustle, you have likely at one time thought about the what if….what if I took this full time. Sports cards is that for me…sports cards is my money making passion hobby. For those in sports cards specifically, you have at one time thought about going into sports cards full time. You have at one point thought about transitioning from sports cards as a collector and passionate hobbyist to a full time entrepreneur in sports cards.
During my sports cards journey, I became very close to buying out a sports cards shop a few years out of college. Looking back I would never want to go into sports cards full time and would rather enjoy this hobby for what it is…a good side hustle to make extra income while being able to collect cards I enjoy having in my collection.
Background of How I Was So Close to Owning a Sports Card Shop
As we were heading into the financial crisis between 2008 and 2009, lots of people were going through rough times. Many businesses were struggling and people in general were having a tough time making payments on bills, mortgages, anything really. These desperate times resulted in desperate people.
During this time I had a solid job, but as I have mentioned many times before, I was a huge money moron. Despite the enormous amount of debt I had, I thought getting into sports cards full time was a good idea.
I was starting to become very engaged in sports cards especially buying and selling and this idea of doing this full time started growing. I contacted sports card shops that were within 1-1.5 hours driving distance from where I lived. I stayed in touch with a few and eventually one card shop reached out asking me if I was interested in taking over the shop, which means I was responsible for buying out the inventory and taking over the lease. This was well into the 6 figures. Just to put my situation into context, my student loan debt was close to 6 figures and during this time of my life, I was not even making 6 figures at my job.
Taking the Steps To Owning a Sports Card Shop
When the opportunity came to take over the sports card shop, I immediately went into action. As a person in my 20s, there was no way I was going to be able to come up with well over 6 figures. I thought the only logical thing to do was to get an SBA (small business administration) loan. After learning as much as I could and talking with those who would determine whether I get an SBA loan, I took action.
I put together a business plan that was well over 50 pages per the SBA’s recommendation. The business plan consisted of the following:
- Executive summary
- Sports card shop description
- Market analysis – state of the hobby as an industry and the target market locally and online
- Competitive research
- Organization and management – this was going to be my full time job so I would be the only employee with plans to hire part timers
- Marketing and sales – opportunity to expand from foot traffic and local traffic to go online via social media and building a new website that did not exist for this shop
- Key partnerships and resources – I would partner with major distributors and vendors as well as bloggers to continue promoting the shop
- Customer relationships – the shop had their own CRM (customer relationship management) tool that kept track of customers especially customer requests
- Financial projections – I was given the 5 year financials that I built into a 5 year projection including the expected growth projections by expanding into the online space
After spending lots of hours putting together the business plan along with other essential documents to support my need for a large loan, I submitted my proposal.
I do not remember exactly how long it took, but I was rejected. I was deflated, but declining me was clearly the right decision. I had tons of student loans, my credit was starting to take a hit, and my overall financial statement showed that I was living paycheck to paycheck because of the lifestyle inflation I was going through.
More than 10 years has passed and I have since declined multiple opportunities to go cards full time. Although I am in a very good financial spot being debt free and having no personal commitments, there are multiple reasons why I declined.
4 Reasons I Will Never Go Into Sports Cards Full Time
- My long term life goal is not to keep working full time. It is to retire early. Looking back my life goal has definitely shifted because in my 20s I was a money moron and did not understand the concept of early retirement. I am not looking to replace a full time job with another full time job. I am looking to supplement my current full time income with more streams of income to help achieve my goal of early retirement. I stated that I now plan to retire by 52. Over the past 2 years, I have reduced my target retirement age from 55 to now 52 thanks to major financial shifts I have made including becoming debt free.
- The thought of constantly finding deals and collections and then flipping stresses me out. I talked to many people who have transitioned to cards full time. Going into cards full time does not necessarily require travel, but it certainly helps such as going to large sports cards shows. I know of many who only stick to their local area and still do well. You must be able to create a network to continue sourcing for deals. Nowadays with social media, it is becoming easier, but you have to continue grinding. Sports cards is extremely competitive now more than ever.
- The requirement of having to quick flip as a priority goes against why I got into this hobby. Yes I do buy and sell sports cards as mentioned in my podcast, but when you are in the sports cards business full time, you cannot afford to keep as many cards as you might otherwise want to. You need to keep a constant flow of income coming in and out. Going into cards full time would not allow me to sit on cards for as long as I have been doing let alone keep the majority of cards I buy in a collection.
- I have a very good full time job with a great salary that will be very difficult to replace. I think if I were making a much lower salary like I was in my 20s, then there would be more motivation to go into sports cards full time. I would be willing to take more risk because it is much easier to get another full time job when you are making a lower income than when you are making an executive salary. As you get older and especially as you get personal commitments such as a family and kids, you tend to stick with the safer route. I praise everyone especially those in their 20s and 30s who have made the jump to get into sports cards full time. They are the ones pursuing a life long dream and able to take risks while getting the necessary support along the way.
For those who have a passion for a hobby and/or side hustle, have you ever thought about taking it full time? If so, why haven’t you? I would love to hear other reasons.